School ‘Food-Safety Scandal’ Based on Fake Photos

BY CHINA DAILY

Three parents in Chengdu, Sichuan province, have been detained for faking photos of food in a primary school’s cafeteria to make it appear moldy, the information office of the municipal government said on its social media account on Sunday.

The parents released photos of supposedly moldy food on Tuesday and said their children had diarrhea and blood in their stools after eating in the cafeteria.

Thirty-six students were taken to the hospital for health checks on Wednesday, but health authorities said no food-related problems were found.

The school said in a statement on the same day that it was “deeply sorry” and bore “inescapable responsibility” to the students. It said it had terminated its contract with the food supplier.

Huang Xiaodong, director of the district’s education bureau, and Zhao Yong, deputy director of the market regulation bureau, were suspended on Friday for lax supervision.

However, local police told Red Star News, Chengdu Economic Daily‘s media platform, on Sunday that after watching a surveillance video from the cafeteria and interrogating the three parents, they discovered that images of “discolored” chicken legs and “moldy” tripe had been forged.

Surveillance video from the canteen’s storage room showed three people separately taking photos on Tuesday after putting ginger powder, a yellow seasoning, onto chicken, and one of them throwing red yeast rice onto the tripe.

Police said the trio went to the school with other parents to ask about food problems that some parents had recently revealed online. The canteen operator promised at a meeting that it would remove all the frozen food and seasoning from some relatively unknown brands.

“Parents saw the removal and misunderstood it as destroying evidence,” the police told Red Star News. “They had conflicts with workers removing the food and took photos of the food to keep as evidence.”

The police said the three parents admitted forging the photos to try to get more parents to protest against the school.

“I just wanted to make the photo look grosser and create a shock on the parents’ WeChat group,” the police quoted one of the parents as saying.

An investigation of the food quality at the canteen by the Chengdu administration of market regulation on Friday found that only noodles made from potato starch were moldy. There were no problems found with other food said to have gone bad, including frozen beef, meat pies, cuttlefish and chicken legs.

The primary school is affiliated with Chengdu No 7 High School Development School, in the city’s Wenjiang district.

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